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Rube Goldberg looks at 2nd Base


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Lonnie

Lonnie

    Demi-God... In Training.

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Good news folks! The iguana projectile vomited the heads of the army men and seems to be feeling better, so the Rube Goldberg Stat Machine is back in business. The komodo dragon just didn't work out I'm afraid to say.

Today I want to see what there is to see concerning 2nd base. I think that we all feel comfortable now with Dustin Ackley manning the spot, but should we be? I mean, with has the putrid production from the position in the year+ prior to his debut lowered our expectations? Let's take a look. First, let's pour the stats from the last five years into the hopper of the RGSM and drop the piece of cheese.

Finding the Floor-Level Production

The mouse with a string tied between his tail and the power switch of the electic fan rushes for the cheese, which starts the fan, which turns the windmill, which winds up the string that pulls chock out from in front of the bowling ball, which rolls down the ramp and strikes the gong, which.....

Median Production for 2nd Base 2007 - 2011 (All)
YEAR  AB   R   H   2B  3B  HR  RBI  SB  CS  BB  SO  AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS
2011  210  24  52  10  1   2   19   3   1   12  35  .250  .312  .350  .655
2010  216  26  53  11  1   2   19   2   1   20  36  .250  .313  .342  .665
2009  264  32  67  12  1   2   28   3   1   21  46  .256  .318  .364  .695
2008  231  30  56  10  1   2   22   2   1   18  34  .261  .321  .368  .689
2007  231  30  59  12  1   3   25   2   1   20  34  .264  .331  .381  .712

Is it just me or does it look like the floor-level production has been on a steady decline since 2007? If I wasn't so damn lazy I'd go back further and see if this is a trend of note or just a downstroke of the production sine wave.

Median of the Medians (All)
AB   R   H   2B  3B  HR  RBI  SB  CS  BB  SO  AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS
231  30  56  11  1   2   22   2   1   20  35  .256  .318  .364  .689

Am I the only one who is a bit underwhelmed by those numbers? What is amazing is after years of underwhelming production from the Mariners second sackers that I'M underwhelmed. Ok, to get a better idea of what Floor-Level Production is we need to stretch these numbers out to encompass a full season. As usual, I'll use 650 plate appearances.

AB   R   H    2B  3B  HR  RBI  SB  CS  BB  SO  AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS
598  78  153  28  3   5   57   5   3   52  91  .256  .318  .364  .689

In some ways, those numbers are attractive, and in others they leave me flacid... Let's break away from the floor and look at something a bit more cheery.

Finding the Optimal-Level Production

Ok, let's take at the last five years production at second base and filter it to those players who received at least 300 at bats.

Median Production for 2nd Base 2007 - 2011 (Filtered)
YEAR  AB   R   H    2B  3B  HR  RBI  SB  CS  BB  SO  AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS
2011  445  53  120  23  3    7  43   9   3   34  71  .269  .333  .381  .715
2010  436  57  118  23  1    9  49   7   2   37  68  .269  .338  .393  .721
2009  467  63  125  25  2    9  52   7   3   35  71  .271  .328  .407  .737
2008  414  58  113  24  3    7  46   8   2   36  61  .282  .344  .403  .744
2007  494  70  140  26  3   11  56   9   3   43  85  .288  .346  .427  .772

Interesting. Even the optimal-level players have been trending downward. Maybe I'll look at this again one day to see what is and what isn't.

Median of the Medians (Filtered)
AB   R   H    2B  3B  HR  RBI  SB  CS  BB  SO  AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS
445  58  120  24  3   9   49   8   3   36  71  .271  .338  .403  .737

Extrapolated out to 650 plate appearances.

AB   R   H    2B  3B  HR  RBI  SB  CS  BB  SO  AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS
601  78  163  32  4   12  66   11  4   49  96  .271  .338  .403  .737

Hmm... So, an Optimal-Level second sacker hits for a decent average, but not what I would call great. He would also run an eye of .510 and a contact rate of .840.

Summary

It's kind of interesting when I look back at the production that second base has generated through the last five years. In 2007 Lopez completed his second season being the full-time second baseman, and fell a bit short of the production he generated in 2006. 2008 saw Lopez put together his second best season as a Mariner even though the rest of the team (except for Ichiro) imploded to the beat of 101 losses. The bile still rises in my throat when I spend more than a freakin' nanosecond thinking about that season. 2009 was yet another good year for Lopez as he had an OPS+ of 103. 2010 marked the downfall of Lopez in Seattle as everything fell apart for him. Off-field issues mirrored on-field difficulties. AVG, OBP, SLG... everything went to shit. Some may point to his position change as the culprit, and others will point to his off-field tragedies. Some, who never believed in him to begin with will just say he sucked.

In 2010 newcomer Chone Figgins took over at 2nd base and put together a season of mixed results. A poor showing in the first half of the season was balanced with a better showing in the second half. Both halves together though equaled out to rather putrid performance.

In 2011 the Jack Wilson as 2nd sacker experiment started, and after a bit more than two months, ended with the promotion of Dustin Ackley. Where Wilson was failing miserably, Ackley hit the ground running and became a force on a surprising first half team.

Ok, enough words. Let's get our hands dirty with some numbers.

Players who have spent time at 2nd from 2007 - 2011
2007 - Jose Lopez and Willie Bloomquist
2008 - Jose Lopez, Miguel Cairo, Willie Bloomquist, and Luis Valbuena
2009 - Jose Lopez, Josh Wilson, Chris Woodward, and Matt Tuiasosopo
2010 - Chone Figgins
2011 - Dustin Ackley, Jack Wilson, and Luis Rodriguez

Median Production from Mariner 2nd Basemen 2007 - 2011
YEAR  PA   AB   R   H    2B  3B  HR  RBI  SB  CS  BB   SO  AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS
2007  607  567  65  144  18  2   11  65    4   4  22   73  .254  .282  .351  .633
2008  705  660  79  194  41  2   16  85    7   3  29   82  .294  .324  .435  .759
2009  655  613  68  165  41  0   24  93    3   3  25  100  .269  .298  .454  .751
2010  702  602  62  156  21  2    1  35   42  15  74  114  .259  .340  .306  .646
2011  643  473  56  125  23  7    6  45   10   1  49  101  .264  .333  .381  .714

Are these stats "bad" for production out of the 2nd base position? Every season was above the Floor-Level (mostly), but nearly everyone was below the Optimal-Level. In 2008 the production was actually above Optimal, and in some areas well above. Let's take the median of these years now see how that looks against Floor and Optimal-Level production.

Mariners 5-Year Median Production
AB   R   H    2B  3B  HR  RBI  SB  CS  BB  SO   AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS
602  65  156  23  2   11  65   7   3   29  100  .259  .293  .359  .652

Floor-Level Production
AB   R   H    2B  3B  HR  RBI  SB  CS  BB  SO   AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS
231  30  56   11  1   2   22   2   1   20  35   .256  .318  .364  .689

Optimal-Level Production
AB   R   H    2B  3B  HR  RBI  SB  CS  BB  SO   AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS
601  78  163  32  4   12  66   11  4   49  96   .271  .338  .403  .737

Well, over the years the Mariners, in the key stats (Hits, 2B, HR, SB%, BB, SO, AVG, OBP, SLG) have shaken out like this:

Hits - Very nearly Optimal
2B - Mid-point between the two levels
HR - Very nearly Optimal
SB% - M's = 70%, Floor = 50%, Optimal = 73%. Mariners were nearly Optimal
AVG - Very nearly Floor-Level
OBP - Well below Floor-Level
SLG - Just below Floor-Level

Add all that up (if you can) and you end up with production that has more in common with Floor-Level Production than with Optimal. That is not good, to say the least.

Is there hope for our beloved Mariners? Well, of course there is! Dustin Ackley, in his early returns is showing signs of blowing past the Optimal-Level and perhaps reach the Elite-Level. In 2011 Ackley had 376 plate appearances. Let's take his numbers out over a full-season (650 PA's) and see how they look.

AB   H    2B  3B  HR  SB  CS  BB  SO   AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS
581  159  28  12  10  10  0   69  137  .273  .348  .417  .766

If they look a bit odd to you don't feel alone. 12 triples and 10 homeruns? Really? And just 28 doubles? That really sounds whacked to me, and for good reason. The sample size that we are working with isn't too small (maybe), but the sine wave of production was erratic and Ackley really suffered a downward plunge during the month of September. Also, Ackley, like his brother rookies, was not used to playing in the month of September. Just for reference, let's look at his month to month tally.

Month  Games   AB  H   2B  3B  HR  BB  SO  AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS
June     12    40  12  1   2   2    5   5  .300  .378  1.30  1.678
July     24    91  28  8   1   3    8  14  .308  .364  .516  .880
Aug      28   104  30  4   3   0   16  28  .288  .383  .385  .768
Sept     26    96  21  3   1   1   11  32  .219  .299  .302  .601

Ya, that's a pretty steep fall in September from where he was at in July/August.

I don't think that anyone can say with any measure of surety of where Ackley's true potential lays. Is he a .700 OPS hitter? .750? Maybe .800+? All anyone can do at this point in time, IMHO, is make an educated guess as to how Ackley will fare in 2012 and beyond. Speaking (as it were) of 2012 and beyond, I wish that everyone who "wants" to see Ackley moved back into the outfield would get a grip on things and come to the reality of the situation. Ackley has a below arm for the outfield and would be a defensive detriment. Sure, he has the speed to get to some balls, but getting to them and throwing it are two very different things. Ackley is the Mariners second baseman and will stay that way until a better one shows up.

Lonnie
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